The best theatre to stream this month: Edinburgh fringe, Jane Eyre and more
“I was struck by her spirit and strong will, her peculiar and brilliant mind. She lashes out against anything that prevents her from being herself. I just thought: wow, I’d love to be someone like that!” That’s what visionary director Sally Cookson felt when she read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre – and her stunning staging of the novel boasts a similarly inspiring lead performance by Madeleine Worrall. Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre’s co-production has been added to the catalogue of NT at Home.
The world’s biggest arts jamboree is back, celebrating its 75th anniversary with more than 3,000 productions around town. Happily, there’s a fair few online too, including shows about an accidental astronaut, the lives of Paul Robeson and environmentalist Rachel Carson, the French revolution and Shakespeare performed by migrant actors. Meanwhile, Next Up Comedy is hosting more than 50 livestreams from the festival including sets by Esther Manito, Yuriko Kotani and Christopher Bliss. The fringe runs 5-29 August; the full list of online theatre shows can be found here.
National Youth Dance Company’s tour of Alesandra Seutin’s Quartier Paradis reaches Sadler’s Wells in September. But before then you can see NYDC’s film of Seutin’s Speak Volumes. Directed by Ben Williams, it unfolds in the eerie, otherwise empty corridors, classrooms and playground of a disused school. Thanks to some startling close-ups and lyrical narration it packs a punch even before Seutin’s crew make the first moves of their glitching uprising. Stand by for a sinister rendition of Simon Says.
Hedda (After Ibsen)
Writer-director Jen Heyes and composer Tom Parkinson’s sideways look at Hedda Gabler finds Ibsen’s 19th-century heroine squaring off against the great Norwegian playwright, dissatisfied with the limited life she’s been written. David Hoyle gives us a beguiling, deadpan Hedda, sometimes through song, in a pungent and stylishly captured performance that’s available on Soho Theatre on Demand until 30 September.
The Inbetweeners’ Emily Head performs all the roles in her own play, a whodunnit in the aftermath of a birthday party where the host has been murdered. Original Theatre Company’s ambitious production, directed by Guy Unsworth, was recorded live in one take on stage at the New Wolsey in Ipswich and is followed by a Q&A with the writer-performer. Available until 31 August.
Subscription service Marquee TV unveils its third annual festival of free short dance, theatre and music films, one for each day of the month. Drew Jacoby choreographs Evidence of It All, written by librettist Royce Vavrek and narrated by Rosamund Pike; Drift finds choreographer Cathy Marston performing her own improvisation on the banks of the River Aare in Berne, Switzerland; and there’s a handful of films from Gauthier dance company’s The Dying Swans Project, each responding to Mikhail Fokine’s 1907 solo piece for Anna Pavlova.
The prolific Ringham brothers have brought their expert ears to stage productions around the UK, creating sound designs whose moods linger long after the curtain comes down. Now they collaborate with playwright Dan Rebellato on their first audio drama for the BBC. It’s a thriller starring Gina McKee as a forensic analyst who uses sound to solve mysteries. Shvorne Marks plays her trainee and there’s also a role for Fenella Woolgar. The series is broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4 from Friday 19 August and also on BBC Sounds.
When Cicely Tyson died last year, she was rightly lauded as a consummate actor and mentor to many stars including Vanessa Williams who called her “incredible and inspirational”. In 1971, Tyson starred in a TV adaptation of Arkady Leokum’s play Neighbors, which explores similar themes to Bruce Norris’s later Clybourne Park, as it follows a black couple planning to move into a predominantly white suburban neighbourhood. It’s one of many theatrical adaptations on Marquee TV, alongside Death of a Salesman with Lee J Cobb, The Glass Menagerie with Katharine Hepburn and Awake and Sing! with Walter Matthau.
The House That Jackson Built
Meet the mysterious Jackson, a travelling, wagon-dragging man of stories, who holds the stage in Justin Coe’s one-man show. A captivating performer, Coe celebrates the thrill of losing yourself in a library – at a time when they are being lost themselves amid huge cuts. Jackson’s tale of growing up as a bookworm in a clifftop home with his dad, words “fluttering like birds in my brain”, is told with lovely rhyming couplets and a super-sized pop-up book set design. For audiences aged four to 10, this is one of several on-demand shows from Half Moon theatre to entertain and inspire in the summer holidays.
What the Constitution Means to Me
For more than a dozen years, Heidi Schreck’s evergreen show about the US constitution has taken on new shades in each political climate. Every time she does it anew “the world has changed”, she says in the show. “Next week, next month, its meanings may shift again,” observed Alexis Soloski in our own Broadway review back in 2019. And sure enough, Schreck’s account of how the supreme law of the US has failed women for generations hits all the harder now after the overturning of Roe v Wade. Available to stream from Amazon Prime.